Amarillo VA and city court team up to help local veterans

Amarillo VA and city court team up to help local veterans
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - After seeing a growing need in our community, Amarillo's municipal court and Veterans Affairs office are coming together for the first time to host a special veterans docket.

This is the first year the Amarillo Municipal Court is hosting an event where any veteran with a citation, no matter the year, can come to court and have it resolved.

The goal is to come to a workable solution for the veterans that will help them and the city.

"We understand that they have these outstanding violations and the court wants to provide them a solution to comply with that," said court administrator Victoria Medley. "We understand that there is a lot of conversation about 'are they going to arrest me', 'whats going to happen', 'I can't get out of this hole that I dug,' but I do want to deal with it."

Each year on average, the Amarillo Municipal Court sees close to 65,000 cases. However, there are thousands of outstanding warrants throughout the city that go unpaid and it's becoming an increasing problem among veterans.

This is an increasing issue locally because sometimes paying a citation could be difficult for a veteran due to a health issue or lack of transportation, but the city has set aside time for them to resolve their tickets or citations whether it be through a payment plan, community service or deferment.

"We realize that it might be beneficial to have just a time when they could come and do everything at once," said Karla Abernethy-Thetford, Court Community Programs Coordinator. "Only have to show up one time. They can come to the court, they can take care of that responsibility, take care of that issue."

Upon arriving at municipal court, veterans will be directed to a cashier to check in and review open violations. They will have the opportunity to visit with the city prosecutor to review possible resolutions and then appear before the Judge.

Depending on the judge's ruling, the veteran will be directed to the appropriate department such as collections or community service to meet with court staff. Afterward, the veteran may choose to meet with area agencies about possible services such as job assistance, legal aid, housing and healthcare.

Along with the special docket they are also partnering with the VA to host a Veteran Service Day. Local agencies including the Vet Center, Veteran Resource Center and the Salvation Army will be available to meet with veterans about the assistance and services they offer to them.

The Veteran Service Day and special docket is taking place Wednesday, Sept. 28, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Amarillo Municipal Court at 201 SE. 4th Ave. in Amarillo.

Court officials do want to remind veterans that the court only handles city issued Class C misdemeanor violations. These include: Traffic violations, seat-belt violations, public intoxication, theft under $100 and other minor offenses.

For more information on the special veterans docket this afternoon you can contact the Amarillo Municipal Court at (806) 378-4224.

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